Jul 22, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog 
2023-2024 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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The natural setting of Western Washington University adjacent to the Cascade Mountains and Salish Sea provides an ideal situation for study of a wide variety of geologic problems.


Currently, the department consists of 18 faculty members who have a broad range of backgrounds covering the entire field of geology. There are about 180 undergraduate students declaring geology majors and approximately 4 graduate students in the department.

BERNARD A. HOUSEN (1997) Chair and Professor. BS, University of Washington; MS, PhD, University of Michigan.
COLIN B. AMOS (2012) Associate Professor. BS, University of California - Davis; PhD, University of California - Santa Barbara.
PAUL BETKA (2023) Assistant Professor. BSc, Virginia Tech; MSc, University of Vermont; PhD, University of Texas at Austin.
ASMAA BOUJIBAR (2021) Assistant Professor. BS, Université de Rennes; MS, PhD, Université Blaise Pascal.
JACQUELINE CAPLAN-AUERBACH (2006) Professor. BA, Yale University; PhD, University of Hawaii-Manoa.
DOUGLAS H. CLARK (1998) Associate Professor. BS, MS, Stanford University; PhD, University of Washington.
ROBYN M. DAHL (2017) Assistant Professor. BA, Oberlin College; MS, PhD, University of California –Riverside.
SUSAN M. DEBARI (1998) Professor. BA, Cornell University; PhD, Stanford University.
BRADY Z. FOREMAN (2014) Assistant Professor. BA, Macalester College; MS University of Michigan; PhD University of Wyoming.
SCOTT R. LINNEMAN (2000) Professor. BA, Carleton College; PhD, University of Wyoming.
ROBERT J. MITCHELL (1996) Professor. BS, University of Wisconsin-River Falls; MS, Michigan Technological University; PhD, Michigan Technological University.
SEAN R. MULCAHY (2015) Assistant Professor. BS, Virginia Tech; PhD, University of California, Davis.
ALLISON PFEIFFER (2019) Assistant Professor. PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz.
CAMILO PONTON (2018) Assistant Professor. BS, MS, Florida International University; PhD, MIT-WHOI Joint Program.  
MELISSA R. RICE (2014) Assistant Professor. BA, Wellesley College; MS, PhD, Cornell University.
EMILY ROLAND (2020) Assistant Professor. BS, Colorado School of Mines; PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
CASEY SAENGER (2021) Assistant Professor. BS, Bates College; PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
KRISTINA J. WALOWSKI (2021) Assistant Professor. BS, University of California; PhD, University of Oregon.

Research Associates

RUSSELL F. BURMESTER (1978). BS, Stanford University; MA, University of Texas-Austin; PhD, Princeton University.
CRISTINA GARCIA LASANTA (2018) BS, MS, PhD, Universidad de Zaragoza.
ERIC E. GROSSMAN (2011) BA, University of California, Berkeley, MS, PhD, University of Hawaii.
ALEXANDER HANDWERGER (2021) BA, Boston University; PhD, University of Oregon.
MICHAEL KRAFT (2017) BS, SUNY Buffalo; PhD, Arizona State University.
GEORGE MUSTOE (2014) BS, MS, Western Washington University.
JOHN OLDOW (2017) BS, University of Washington; PhD, Northwestern University.
JON RIEDEL (2022) BS, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse; MS University of Wisconsin-Madison; PhD, Simon Fraser University.
BRIAN RUSK (2011) BS, James Madison University, PhD, University of Oregon.
MAI SAS (2019) BA, BSc, University of Nevada; MSc, Western Washington University; PhD, University of Auckland.
PETE STELLING (2011) BA, Western State College, Colorado; PhD, University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
DAVID TUCKER (2006) BS, MS, Western Washington University.
JOHN YEARSLEY (2022) BS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; MS, University of Washington; MS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; PhD, University of Washington. 

Adjunct Faculty

PAUL THOMAS (2000) Senior Instructor. BA, University of Washington; BS, MS, Western Washington University.

Emeritus Faculty

Babcock, R.S., PhD, geochemistry, petrology.
Brown, E.H., PhD, metamorphic petrology, geochemistry.
Easterbrook, Don, PhD, geomorphology, glacial geology.
Engebretson, D.C., PhD, tectonics, paleomagnetism.
Hansen, Thor, PhD, paleontology.
Schermer, Elizabeth R., PhD, tectonics, structural geology, geochronology.
Talbot, James L., PhD, structural geology, tectonics.


The Department’s degree programs are aimed at improving an understanding of Geology, Geophysics, and Earth Science Education through our courses and faculty research and teaching. Academic degree programs lead to preparation of undergraduate and graduate students for graduate school and careers as professional geoscientists and preparation of earth science teachers at the primary and secondary levels.

The department offers BA, BAE Earth Science – Elementary, Secondary, and Earth Science/General Science Secondary, BS Geology, BS Geophysics and MS degrees plus specialized courses in the following subjects: economic geology; environmental geology; geochemistry; geomorphology; geophysics; glacial geology; hydrology; paleomagnetism; paleontology; petrology; planetary geology; sedimentation; seismology; stratigraphy; and structure and tectonics.

Declaration of Major

Students in good academic standing may declare a Geology major at any time except for during Phase I registration. The Geology Department does not declare new Geology majors or minors during Phase I registration.

Information on declaring each of the specific majors (BA Geology, BS Geology, BS Geophysics, BAE Earth Science) is described within each program below.  

Please see the Geology website for more information: cse.wwu.edu/geology.

Geologist License Education Requirements

A professional license is required by law to practice geology in Washington State. The first step toward licensure is passing the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) Fundamentals of Geology exam. To qualify to take ASBOG’s Fundamentals of Geology exam you must satisfy certain educational requirements. These requirements are a degree in the Geosciences (Geology BA, BS, or Geophysics BS), which must include at least 36 credits of upper-division geology courses, with at least 21 of those credits including courses in Mineralogy, Petrology, Earth Materials, Economic Geology, Engineering Geology, Field Camp (field mapping), Geomorphology, Geophysics, Geochemistry, Hydrogeology, Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, Structural Geology. Please consult your departmental advisor to ensure your plan of study will meet these requirements.

Some licensed geologists also work in the areas of hydrogeology and engineering geology. To best prepare for these professions choose your geology electives from the following GEOL courses: 314, 412, 413, 430, 440, 452, 470, 472, 473, or 474.    

Departmental Honors and Distinctions

BA or BS students and students in the University Honors College who have completed at least 4 credits of GEOL 490 and have a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher meet the requirements for departmental honors. Those students who have completed at least 4 credits of GEOL 490 and have a cumulative GPA higher than 3.20 meet the requirements for departmental distinction.

Other Departmental Information

Facilities and Equipment

Geology is a science that studies the earth, including its surface, interior and history and the processes that have altered it through time. It embraces investigation of the natural environment both in the field and in the laboratory. The Geology Department occupies laboratories, classrooms and offices in the Environmental Studies Center. Geology laboratory facilities and equipment are available for Geographic Information System, computational climate models, planetary spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, particle-size analysis, sedimentation, digital surface analysis, flume and wave tank studies, paleomagnetic and rock-magnetic analysis, near-surface geophysics, seismology, marine geophysics, geochemistry, petrography, organic geochemistry, and laser ablation-ICP-MS. Additional equipment and facilities are available through the Geology Department’s affiliation with the Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center (AMSEC) and the Marine and Coastal Science (MACS) program.

Student Involvement in Research

The faculty in the Geology Department are active in a wide variety of ongoing research projects that frequently involve undergraduate and graduate students in special projects and thesis projects or provide employment. Some of this research is funded or partially supported from grants to individual faculty members from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, National Parks Commission, Office of Ecology and geological-related companies. Many of these projects are in the Western Washington region, others include investigations in other parts of the United States, Canada, overseas, or at sea as part of larger oceanographic projects.

Writing Proficiency Course Guidelines

The geology department has a multi-tiered system for upper division writing proficiency courses. Courses are assigned writing proficiency points based on the percentage of the course grade that is determined by writing assignments. A minimum of three writing proficiency points in approved upper-division writing proficiency courses at WWU with a minimum grade of C- is required.


    Undergraduate MajorUndergraduate Combined MajorUndergraduate MinorGraduate



      Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400, 500 are described in the University Academic Policies  section of this catalog.

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